‘Telling their people’s stories’

The Idaho Mythweaver’s Native Heritage Film Series kicks off Saturday with ‘United by Water’

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

In a world where a majority of the media we consume is dominated by mainstream trends, the Idaho Mythweaver’s Native Heritage Film Series strives to bring untold stories to the forefront.

Kalispel Tribal members arrive to Sandpoint City Beach in traditional dugout canoes this summer. Photo by Idaho Mythweaver.

“The history of Native peoples in our country is largely untold by the mainstream. Also, like slavery and African-Americans, it can be a very dark story,” said Mythweaver Media Director Jane Fritz, noting that almost every tribe has a story like the Trail of Tears, regardless of geographic location. “We’ve rarely acknowledged this aspect of American history, so films on this subject (are) a major way to give Native peoples a voice about this history from their point of view.”

Mythweaver organizes the film series as an avenue for locals to access this historical perspective.

“There are some amazing, creative Native independent filmmakers, directors, producers and actors out there telling their peoples’ stories,” Fritz said.

The first film in the series, “United by Water,” is showing this Saturday, Oct. 20, at 12:30 and 3 p.m. at the Sandpoint Library. The film follows the Kootenai, Kalispel, Coeur d’Alene and Spokane tribes, as well as members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, on their riverine journeys to Kettle Falls in June 2016 in traditional cedar dugout canoes. This is an award-winning documentary directed by Derrick Lamere, and narrated by Shelly Boyd with poetry by Sherman Alexie. There will be a discussion following each showing led by tribal carvers and paddlers of the River Warrior Society.

“The film is excellent and promises to get us all talking about awareness of water issues and solutions,” Fritz, who attended the Kettle Falls gathering, said. “It is the first time that it has been shown in Sandpoint, and we’re grateful to the tribes for allowing us to show it free of charge.”

Other upcoming films in this three-part series include “Mankiller,” a new documentary on the life of Cherokee Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller showing Nov. 10. The series concludes on Jan. 12 with “Ohiyesa: The Soul of an Indian,” which follows Charles Eastman, a Dakota, activist, author and one of the first Native American doctors, as well as a short film about the Nez Perce people called “Of One Heart.”

All films are free and show at the Sandpoint Library. Each film has two screenings: 12:30 and 3 p.m. Fritz said part of what makes the film series so valuable is the discussion time following each screening. 

Mythweaver’s Native Heritage Film Series is sponsored by TransEco Services and the Bonner County Human Rights Fund of the Idaho Community Foundation. For more information, visit facebook.com/idahomythweaver.

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